When the weather is cooler, we’re always on the look out for things to do in Dubai outside. And that comes to shopping too. While malls are great, sometimes you just want to something smaller, more independent, quirky and with the element of surprise.
From occasional pop-ups to permanent fixtures offering community activities and as much in the way of entertainment and browsing potential as possible, Dubai home to some incredible markets.
Yes, there are the traditional souks to explore, but while the weather is cooler you should step outside and take a look at some of these markets Dubai. You’ve had the whole summer to work on those haggling skills so it’s high time you put them to the test.
We’ve rounded up the very best outdoor markets in Dubai for you check out below, enjoy.
Like The Avengers, or a cheese platter, this is a collective that proves a whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. The ever-evolving team behind the makers’ market are proud of the slogan “We make what we sell”. The arty types can be found at events across the city, both indoors and out, and are hard to pin down to any one category of artisanal vendor. You’re as likely to find a cupcake baker and jeweller as a greeting card designer, ceramicist or painter. Everything is made by creatives in the city and you can find gorgeous little nick-nacks for yourself or gifts for friends and relatives.
USP: Variety is the watchword here. Everything is handmade, but without strict guidelines the creativity of vendors is set free, making for a more personal touch than in malls. We’ve seen some pretty earrings, but you might like some trendy prints. Something, as they say, for everyone at this Dubai market.
Various times and locations. Arte, The Makers’ Market, www.arte.ae (050 458 9411).
When is a market not a market? When it is a ladies’ night in disguise, of course! The clever folks behind the Tied Up With String pop-up, literally, at casual dining restaurant Bounty Beets in Dubai Marina once a week to show off their market skills. The community spirited spot has lots in the way of networking and social events, but for a hit of retail-friendly Tuesday night fun you won’t get better than this.
USP: It is a ladies’ night so there is a distinct social element to this market, but you can access cute jewels and female fashions while you’re at it.
Tuesdays, 5-9pm. Tied Up with Bounty Beets, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, Dubai Marina, www.tiedupwithstring.ae (056 531 6920).
Dubai Flea Market
Another nomadic market that shifts around town (at the time of going to press sessions of this is long-term favourite were planned in both Zabeel and JLT parks). It’s a kind of giant car boot sale where you can buy and also sell pre-loved items. Great for rummaging around expats’ unwanted treasures, you’re likely to find a mountain of paperback books, household items, toys and games plus loads of top brand clothing for just a few dirhams.
USP: Randomness is a quality often overlooked by malls. Unless you’re shopping at the delightfully eccentric Dragon Mart, of course. Here, dressing gowns, tennis racquets, classic TV box sets and cult figurines rub shoulders with designer shirts and kitchen gadgets. Find some bargains.
Various times and locations. Dubai Flea Market, www.dubai-fleamarket.com (055 886 8939).
Farmers’ Market on The Terrace
Who would have thought the sight of a crooked courgette, a few wonky sticks of celery and tomatoes of various shades, shapes and sizes would inspire actual cheers. But through kale-stuffed mouths healthy eaters across the city rejoiced when news broke at the end of October about the return of this popular Business Bay farmers’ market. From November until May there will be locally grown organic and fresh fruit and vegetables sold directly from farmers as well as food and drinks made from scratch by local artisans.
USP: Look out for vegetables you don’t know the names of and only vaguely recognise. Then buy one of each.
Fri-Sat, 7am-1pm. Farmers’ Market on the Terrace, Bay Avenue Park, Business Bay, www.facebook.com/thefarmersmarketontheterrace.
Reform Social and Grill
As well as serving up some decent pub food and breakfasts, Reform Social & Grill in The Lakes runs some of Dubai’s finest events. Take its weekly pop-up markets, for example. Organised by market company Tied Up With String they specialise in fashion from homegrown designers and creators. Every weekend there will be vendors looking to sell hand-picked and bespoke items right on the pub’s lawns. It’s also pet-friendly, too.
USP: Brilliant grub, including a rather special roast or a decent pie, with a little retail therapy on the side.
Fridays, noon-6pm; Saturdays, noon-8pm. Tied Up with Reform, Reform Social and Grill, The Lakes, www.reformsocialgrill.ae (04 454 2638).
One of Dubai’s finest attractions of any kind, never mind just markets, has had a nomadic existence over the years and moved around a fair bit, but has found a permanent home at Academy Park. That means every Friday and Saturday throughout the cooler months you will find craftmakers flogging their stuff. There are occasional themes, with a recent African focus and a likely festive spin towards December, but the general consensus is that these are supreme makers and crafty types hawking bespoke giftware. Ripe was originally founded on the notion of selling organic food and veg from a well-known farm shop so there is a healthy spirit to proceedings. However, it is now just as famed for the trinkets and pre-loved clothing on sale. Entertainment comes in the shape of craft lessons, face-painting, live music and even open mic for budding performers. For everything you need to know about Ripe Market, click here.
USP: The most canine-friendly retail experience in the city has its own dedicated doggie park, meaning family pets have never been so excited to be taken to an organic vegetable sale.
Fridays, 9am-7pm; Saturdays, 10am-7pm. Ripe Market, Academy Park, Umm Suqeim, www.ripeme.com (04 315 7000).
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